Monday, September 27, 2010

Vacation. Hiatus. Whatever you want to call it, just not blogcation - that's lame.

I haven't been completely honest.  That's not like me, because I've been nothing but honest in my writing.  It's kind of my thing.  Yet, here I am - something of a hypocrite?  That's kind of a strong word, I think.  Look, I just haven't been honest but it hasn't been on purpose.

I haven't really had writer's block.  I haven't really been suffering from a lack of things to write about. I just have found these things to be too personal to write about them here.  Imagine that - me finding something too personal too share.  In an effort to divert my own thoughts from these intensely personal things I've been thinking and feeling and living, I turned to you for help.  Of course, you didn't know that's what you were doing but just the same I am immensely grateful for the distraction.  And I'm happy that I could provide you with more stories.  That's my thing too - telling stories.  I like doing it and I'm so very pleased and grateful that you like hearing them.

Unfortunately, these things, these 10,000 things, have grown too loud for me to ignore.  I realized it when I was going through my photo albums looking for pictures of me as a flight attendant so I could come to you today and tell you the stories.  But I couldn't do it - these things are just too strong.  It's kind of hard to go on about your business in the midst of an earthquake.  It's hard to pretend when your house is crumbling around you.  And I'm so very sorry, but this is far too personal to even tell the story.  

I didn't have a purpose when I began this blog.  I was bored at work, I've always liked to write and that was the extent of the thought I put into it - in the beginning.  Over time it grew as I grew, as my life grew.  I just never thought it would get to a  place where my husband would rather read my blog than talk to me or ask me what I'm thinking or feeling.  I never dreamed that I would get so good at expressing myself through writing that he would find it easier to come here rather than come to me.

I don't like that.  

I feel like I've caught a peeping Tom - which is completely asinine I know.  Hundreds of you read what I write each day (Google Analytics tells me so), yet I get only a handful of comments on my posts.  And that doesn't bother me - it never did.  

But this is different.  It feels different.  And I don't like it.

I'm sad about it - I love to write.  I love sharing, I love connecting.  I've found kindred souls here and I have made true friends.  But I have to take a break.  Real life always trumps storytelling and I have some business to attend to.  

Thank you for understanding and I hope to be back soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My baby brother

For the original questions, go to the comments here because I'm paraphrasing.

Do you have siblings?  Do they have kids?  How's your relationship with them?

I can't believe I've never told you about my baby brother!!  He's so great!
This is the only baby picture I have of us online.  
My mom has all the physical pictures at our house.
Don't look at me, I look tired.  Just look at him.
Isn't he handsome!

My baby brother, Clint, is three years younger than I am.  I have always been fiercely protective of him - remember when I told you I'd pretend he and my cousins were my babies?  No one was mean to my brother but me.  I was mean to him at times, but for the most part we stuck together. When either of us would get in trouble, we'd always say "Don't tell Mom okay?  I'll be your best friend!"  We'd leave the doors unlocked for each other so we wouldn't get caught coming home late and I remember one Halloween he was supposed to go to haunted houses with some friends from school.  They were kind of the popular kids and he really wanted to go with them and they stood him up.  I hated seeing how disappointed he was that the cool kids just kicked him to the curb like that.  He ended up going with our cousins and an hour after he left, those kids showed up at our house.  I stood on our front porch and yelled at them for a solid five minutes because I was so mad they stood up my brother.  I think I was 15.

My brother is a computer genius.  He knows everything there is to know about computers.  For our wedding reception last April, he made our video and it looked better than any professional video I've ever seen!  Ever since I can remember, he's been drawing on things, cutting pictures out of magazines, perfecting his signature and just being a cool artist.  However, ask him a computer question at your own risk.  You're likely to get the history of the computer as well as all the details of the electronic components when all you want to know is do I check the box or not!!!???
  I took this from his Facebook.  I have no idea what this was for but 
he looks so professional and smart!

Unfortunately, my brother has that artist mentality.  You know, that one that says a job with benefits or even a decent paycheck isn't as important as doing what you love.  The mentality that says as long as the light bill is paid it's all good.  I love that about him, the laid-back, cool as a cucumber outlook but at some point practicality has to be taken into consideration and just having the light bill paid doesn't cut it!  However, in true sibling fashion he says the same thing about me.  He says I should be doing more with my professional life, that being a receptionist is not worthy of my skills.  Then I shoot back that he shouldn't be a contract IT person, that he should be running some design firm somewhere.  Then he tells me I should develop a brand and market myself.  Then I say why don't you start your own IT consulting firm, you know enough.  Then he says I should be getting paid to write.  Then I say he should be getting paid more to do what he does.  Then he tells me to shut up.  Then I say he was adopted.  Then he says I was just a trial run, that Mom and Dad only stopped when they had him because they finally got it right.

He had amazing musical taste too.  He used to send me CDs of music he burned and I didn't realize how truly talented he was until I heard other people's burned CDs and heard how choppy they were and how my brother's mixes had a ton more musicality.  And I knew it was just a hobby for him.  He designed flyers for parties and that and spinning was how he made side money in college.  He has an Industrial Design degree and last I checked, his dream job would be to design cars.  He looooves cars.  I remember when he bought his Honda Accord and he tricked it aaaalllll out.  He was the first in Kansas City to really be on the import scene.  Of course, you know, back when doing that stuff was cool.  He had it lowered, tinted the windows, changed out the headlights, put lights underneath and customized everything he could on that car - it was spotless and all the girls loved it!  Those nasty-ass, fast girls would call the house for him and I would hang up on their nasty asses every time.  I was rude to every girl who came around.  I could see in their eyes - they were smitten by his curly hair, they loved how he was such a gentleman to them, they loved how he was so soft-spoken and polite.  Oh I had my eye on them hoes.  All of them got the stink-eye from the evil older sister!  

But anyway - oh my goodness, he is hilarious!  He has this dry sense of humor that has me shaking my head at how my baby brother got to be so cool.  I love sitting and talking with him, getting his take on the world.  Artists have very unique views on the ordinary and it's fascinating to hang out with him.

You know, he really should be one of those guys in Northern California starting up some kind of computer-web-design-graphics-type company.  He's so freakin smart and talented and he could do so much!  But, I have learned that my brother does things at his own pace, in his own time and in his own way.  He still struggles financially, I don't think he's where he wants to be yet, but I have every confidence that he'll get there.

He's not married and doesn't have any kids, but I'm very glad about that.  Up until like a year ago my mom was still doing his laundry.  She says it was the only way she could get him to come to the house, but I think that's just shameful.  A grown man shouldn't have his mother doing his laundry - thankfully, I don't think she does it anymore.  He and his girlfriend have been together for almost three years but I don't think that marriage is on the horizon because she's talking about grad school which is just fine.  Even though he's 31, he's nowhere near ready for marriage.  We have epic phone conversations about just about anything, including marriage - mine, our parent's, his future marriage.  Additionally, I ask his advice about guys, he asks me about girls, we talk about our parents, our futures and I always love talking to him.

Culturally, we're quite different.  He got immersed in the alternative-house-trance-garage music scene pretty early on and that shaped a lot of his experiences.  In my opinion, that gave my brother a more European, global-type outlook on things, and he moved in various circles with ease.  Even though he's pretty shy he's really good at putting people at ease and being comfortable just about anywhere and kids love him!  He usually bonded with other guys over art and cars, which doesn't really know race.  Although, he has told me about times that he's been pulled over in the "Whiter" parts of town for DWB (Driving While Black.)  That hurts my feelings because that's still my baby brother.  But he has always been able to handle himself and has never gotten in serious trouble, thank God.  

My brother is a great guy and I'm lucky to be his family.  I know that one day soon, he'll get it all together and he's going to do great things.  And when that happens, I'll be right there cheering the loudest as his proud big sister.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ain't misbehavin'

Let the questions continue...

For the original questions, go to the comments here because I'm paraphrasing.

Does Drew's drinking/traveling/drinking while traveling bother you or make you worry about your marriage?

This one came from an anonymous commenter, and don't worry Anonymous, it's not too personal.  And again, so we start in the same place, some pictures for you.

Drew is not the only one who drinks.
Mama likes her sauce!

Your girl can throw down, please believe.  When I was in school, I would lose my mind over my summer breaks and just be out!  I had a running buddy and she and I would cause chaos everywhere we went.  The door guys knew us, the bartenders knew us and we had our spots nearly every night of the week.  They saw us coming and they made sure we had fun till 2 or 3 in the morning - life was good.  I'm a very happy drunk, you will not find me crying in a corner, drunk-dialing exes or looking for a fight.  I rarely got sloppy and I could almost always take care of myself - as long as I didn't do shots.  The last time I passed out cold was Steve's birthday party and that was because I did shots against my better judgement.  I don't like shots because they always cut the night short for me and someone always ends up having to take care of me and that violates the Rule - don't ever get so drunk other people have to take care of you.  It's tacky.  

When I met Drew, things didn't slow down much.  I just had a new running buddy, one that was much more fun to take home at the end of the night - no offense, J.
This was shortly after we became a couple.

Drew has never been an at-home drinker.  He's not the one to pop open a beer when he gets home and sit on the sofa with his hand in his pants - thank gawd.  We have wine in the house - a lot, actually - but Drew's a wine snob and 90% probably won't ever get touched because it's super fancy-schmancy and I'm not a wine-with-every-meal type of person.  It was the going out - when he and I got together, we always did it super big, going out Saturday night, rolling in at three in the morning, dragging ourselves to brunch the next day and laying by the pool with Bloody Marys for a Sunday Funday.  We had lots of those.

When we got married, we both put the major brakes on the drinking.  One, because we were blowing anywhere from two to three hundred dollars in a weekend going out and we'd just bought a house.  Additionally, I was pregnant when we got married so of course I had stopped drinking a couple months prior and Drew certainly wasn't going to go out without me.  Also, neither of us is a drink-to-cope type of person.  Because if we were?  Yikes!  A house I wasn't ready for, fighting with my dad, a dog I hated, a brand new marriage and two miscarriages?  I'd for real be in rehab right now! 

As a married woman, I also believed that I didn't need to be out in the streets anymore.  Getting married means it's no longer just about you - now you're a we.  Just as I didn't want anyone coming to me talking about Drew acting a fool, I didn't want anyone to going to him, saying they saw me dancing on tables flashing my business.  Once I got married, it became more important to me to learn how to be a good wife to Drew than it was to try keep hold of the 'old' me.  Another reason I started keeping my butt in the house was that I got hit on when I went out.  A lot.  Everywhere.  All the time and there is no such thing as innocent flirtation.  There is no such thing as an innocent ego boost and nothing good happens after midnight - I know because I've been out after midnight plenty.  Furthermore, all you need is the suspicion of wrongdoing to severely damage if not destroy the foundation of a relationship.  It is an unnecessary risk, and God knows we have enough drama in our relationship as it is.  So when I get off work my ass is at home or at yoga and if there is a deviation in that plan, my husband is the first to know about it.  I expect the same of him and he knows that.

Lest you think I'm going all high-and-mighty, it has not been smooth.  Drew started traveling the way he does in February, meaning this has been somewhat of a new development.  It was quite bumpy in the beginning - frankly, we've only recently smoothed things out and ironically, it wasn't the socializing that bothered me.  

I've always been a firm believer that people will do dirt when- and wherever they please (and don't even get me started on that 'you need to keep your man' bullshit, as if he's a caveman incapable of controlling his actions.  We are all grown-ups in this game.  You don't like something, you talk about it and you work toward a solution.  You don't act out and blame it on the other person.)  I'm also a firm believer in karma and the fact that sooner or later, you always get found out.  Drew and I both know where we stand on cheating, we laid it on the table once and we've never had to talk about it again.  I trust Drew completely, totally, 100,000%.  I have never had one inkling that he's ever been less than honorable when he's gone - he's not that guy.  Not at all, not in the slightest tiniest bit.

That does not mean that I won't lose my shit if I don't hear from him every day.  In the beginning, he tried telling me that there were going to be days that he wouldn't be able to speak to me.  That worked for about .5 seconds, dissolving into Big Fight #128 - I Don't Give a Damn What the Hell You're Doing or Where the Hell You're Doing It, I WILL Hear From You EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  He thought I was being controlling and trying to cramp his style and I was like, No dummy, it's because I LOVE YOU.    

That's my thing - we don't need to discuss the meaning of life and have three-hour phone conversations, but I need to hear his voice.  Every day.  No exceptions.  I can't deal if I don't.  Now that he understands I'm not trying to control him, he's much more agreeable to reaching out to me multiple times a day and does well with sending me text messages when he can't talk.  We're doing well with it and it works for us.

The socializing has been a bit trickier.  Schmoozing is a very big aspect of his job and it has gotten out of hand before.  There have been a couple of times that he's been traveling and he got caught up, did it big and didn't call me.  This led to Big Fight #212 - You Are at Work, You Don't Need To Carry On Like A Crazy and You Are Married - Yo Ass NEEDS To Be In Your Room at a Respectable Hour ANYWAY.  Yet even then, I wasn't worried about what he was doing - I was more concerned with how his colleagues saw him and I didn't want anyone looking sideways at my man, acting a fool or not.

Besides, he came to me one day and said, "Babe I just don't feel good anymore.  I'm eating like crap, I'm drinking too much at these work dinners.  I need to get healthy again."  Inside I was dancing and singing, but I simply said "Yeah, it's probably all catching up with you - you're not 21 anymore.  You can't have a giant steak dinner, a bottle of wine, sleep for four hours and just pop out of bed.  I think it's wonderful that you want to get healthy."  He proceeded to do a week-long hardcore detox, following a special menu, packing food and taking it with him on the road. He went an entire month without coffee, which was a Herculean feat.  I don't drink coffee so I don't get it but I was scared.  I was so afraid of a caffeine-free Drew but to his credit, he powered through those tough first days.  He went an entire month without alcohol, which was a massive, huge, gigantic, enormous feat and I've never been so proud of him!  He's back into his regular running schedule and he really is healthier.  He's sleeping better, he says he feels better and that's all I care about in the world.

You know, we're coming up on our first wedding anniversary and writing these past couple of posts has caused me to think about where we used to be and how far we've come.  

Gah, this is why I love you guys!  Sometimes I get caught up and bogged down in the nonsense and little dramas of our marriage but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture has caused me to look at my husband, really look at him and see him for the amazing person he truly is.  He is so committed to me and our marriage and sometimes it's hard to see that.  I'll focus on that one phone call I didn't get instead of seeing how far he's come and how much effort he really is making.  I wouldn't have been able to see that if it weren't for you.  Thank you Anonymous!

I'm getting kinda choked up over here!  How does a post about drinking get me feeling all mush-face towards my husband?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inter-racial relationships Pt. 2

The last post was more of a background, setting the stage-type post.  This one is all about Drew and me and how we're navigating things.  It got me thinking about so many other things but rather than have a mile-long post I figured I'd break things up.

I think it would have been much more difficult for us if our social group wasn't as diverse as it was.  Drew has friends of all walks of life, as do I.  I think if I only had Black friends or Mexican friends or whatever, or he only had White friends that were just like him, we probably wouldn't have even gotten together in the first place.  But our openness allowed us to forge a relationship and now a marriage and hopefully, one day we'll talk to our grandkids about what it was like when we were younger.

Additionally, living in Dallas has made things easier for us.  If we were in a small town that was less open-minded, it would have been a very different story.  But we live in the city, where an inter-racial couple hardly raises an eyebrow.  In Dallas, people are more likely to stare because of the car you're driving or your outfit than the color of your skin.  I like to think they stare because I'm so hot.  I kid, I kid!!!!

We've both lived all over the US, he's lived in Australia, I saw the movie Australia, so really how could we not work!  Seriously though, our skin color isn't that big a deal.  However, early in our dating life, one of his so-called friends made a racist remark about me and Drew stopped talking to him immediately after that.  None of my friends have ever made remarks about Drew, but that's because he's not the first White guy I've ever dated.  But rest assured if someone did get sideways, they would be ejected post-haste.  I do not play that.

Not that it doesn't get on my nerves when people say 'Oh I don't see color' in an effort to boast about how non-racist they are.  I say you had better see color!  You had better recognize and honor someone's cultural differences to the very best of your abilities.  If you were in an Asian family's house, would you not take off your shoes (if they did that) just because 'you don't see color?'  I would hope not.  I'm not saying you need to study up, but you should respect the basics and participate where appropriate.

But back to me and Drew.  Honestly, the biggest differences between us are more social than cultural.  In the beginning, one of the hardest things for me to adjust to was his musical taste.  

The man likes country!!  goaigjso;gielkaj;giueiowekjas;ioesua;olsfnl (That's me bleeding from my ears.)

He has compromised and doesn't listen to it in the car all the time, but he will play it in the house when he's cooking or puttering around.  I can appreciate the words, but the twangy way they sing causes me to goiugdo;iasdg;aklerl;hie;foihasvnesjkl;fheuio;wef every time.  And I have to be fair - he doesn't just like country - he likes a lot of different kinds of music as I'm sure we all do.  However, even with varied musical tastes we all tend to gravitate to one particular kind and for him it's country.

I have gotten better and I no longer roll my eyes and sigh dramatically when he puts it on because it makes him happy.  However, if he would suddenly develop a love for R&B or soft soul or any other soothing, non-grating non-twangy type of music I would not be mad.  But honestly, he doesn't roll his eyes or sigh dramatically when I put on my music and I constantly remind myself that it could be worse - it could be rock or metal.  gouas;galkhesilugahgljnglwkughweiouhwk

Drew is also far more outgoing than I am.  I don't like strangers and I have to majorly psych myself up or want something really really badly before I'll chat up a stranger but he will talk to anybody, anytime.  However, when necessary I'm far more direct than he is.  He's all about being polite and not offending people where I say, if you're not paying my bills I'm not too concerned with what you think of me.  Just this past Sunday, we went shopping and the saleslady was so pushy and intrusive and I had had enough.  I tried walking away, I tried ignoring her but she was relentless and I finally looked her in the eye and told her that *I* was not buying shoes and *I* did not need to be involved in this process.  Drew thought I was rude, I thought the saleslady was rude.  He thought she was being attentive, I thought she was invading my space and was about to get throat-punched.  So we're still seeking a neutral ground in situations like that.

The other thing we are still working on is cooking.  Given a stress-free environment, I could learn to cook and enjoy it.  I'm not dumb, I know could do it.  It's just that Drew loves it and whenever I try to cook, he's behind me, correcting me, telling me how to hold the knife, how to add this ingredient, when to add this spice - all without me asking.  It kills him to stay out of the kitchen so I end up giving up, hand him the knife and go watch tv in the living room.  I've cooked less than ten meals by myself from start to finish since we've been married.  In the beginning, after I made a meal he would tell me what he would have done to improve it.  He doesn't do that anymore.  I now leave the major cooking to him and I clean up and that's why we're still married.  These days, I follow simple recipes and he raves over how wonderful it is and how he wouldn't change a thing.  He's a quick learner, my husband.

He also doesn't dance, but is that a race thing or a guy thing?  And honestly, it's far more endearing when he simply tries just because he knows I love it.  Every every now and then he'll grab me in the kitchen and we'll sway back and forth and it's so sweet I could die.  But for the most part, we compromise and I dance with the dog in the living room while he sits on the sofa and watches us be silly.

Now that I've actually given some thought to it, I can honestly say that our racial difference has not played that big a role in our relationship.  But I know it's because of our diverse friend groups and how I grew up.  When everyone in your family is half-something else, you just don't tend to focus on that part of it.

Really, my mom was the one who had it the hardest.  Everyone in her family was hard-core old-country Mexican and dating a Black guy was the worst possible thing you could do.  Even though my Uncle Pete married a White woman and my Aunt Mary was married to a Persian guy, being with a Black guy was totally, completely, unequivocally unacceptable.  They pretty much disowned her and that's why I never really got to know my Uncle Pete's kids.  As my mom's older brother, he decided that his family would have nothing to do with our family.  Happily, that has changed and my cousins are awesome people and now that we're all adults we can make decisions for ourselves.  My cousin Jayna even watched my dog the last time I was in Kansas!  So, I have to thank my little mommy yet again for being brave enough to stand up for love and stick it out through thick and thin and for showing me that sometimes weathering the wrath of your dad is worth it.  

Okay, now I think I've answered the inter-racial question!  I'm so glad that I can write again, I'm just word-vomiting all over the place!  

And I'm just getting started!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And this is why you're awesome!

You have saved me.  The gates are open and the writing will commence!  I just needed a push and you, my dear and lovely readers are so freakin awesome for giving me just what I need to get over this writing block hump!  I told myself it would be a success if I could get ten questions and I'm almost there and even if I don't reach that, my writing wheels are turning!  Thank you so much!

For the original questions, go to the comments here because I'm going to paraphrase.

Being in an interracial relationship, what issues/cultural differences have you encountered in dating/marriage?

Love that question and it's definitely not one I've talked about!  So we all start in the same place, these are my parents.

My little mommy is Mexican, my dad is Black, ex-military and from the South.  I grew up in Kansas - Kansas City to be exact.  I'm a city girl through and through, although a friend of my mom's had a dairy farm and I remember going out there to shuck corn and watch the cows get milked so I have been on a farm.  However, I would never call myself outdoorsy.  Going camping is just pretending like you're homeless and I don't see the point.  I'm all for nature hikes and getting one with Mother Earth but when we're done, I want to sleep on a bed off the ground with indoor plumbing and four walls surrounding me.

My dad's family lived in Georgia and we saw them on sporadic summer vacations.  My dad's sister has three kids around mine and my brother's age, but sadly I'm not close to them at all.  He has another sister that he's not super close with and two other brothers and they all have kids, but I don't know them very well.  A few Labor Days ago we visited my uncle Virgil in Atlanta, but family or not, getting to know a perfect stranger is really hard over four short days. 
Labor Day 2007 at the MLK memorial
My dad wearing my uncle Virgil's letter jacket
Virgil's three daughters, their spouses and kids and our family.
My brother took the picture.
It's crazy how much he and my dad favor each other!
Plus, I kinda don't recognize myself with straight hair!

 My mom's family all lives in Kansas with the exception of her oldest brother who actually lives in Galveston, I think.  She has another older brother, my late Uncle Pete and her younger sister, my Aunt Mary.  Of my cousins, I'm closest with my aunt Mary's kids.  She has twin boys six months younger than my brother and a daughter that's ten years younger than I am.  However, she's more grown up than I am because she has two kids and is super mature.  I speak to her at least every other day and I miss her kids all the time.  Actually, she's the reason I got sucked back into Facebook.  She posts new pictures of the girls almost daily and I loooove seeing their little faces!  I seriously contemplated making her my only friend just so I could see pictures of the girls, but I thought that would be rude.  So I just deleted everyone that I wouldn't send an email to, but I'm still not on there like I used to be.

Wasn't this supposed to be about culture and interracial relationships?  Gah!  When the floodgates open, I guess!
My cousin Lorena (on the left), who looks exactly like my Aunt Mary (her mom.)
My cousin Jayna, my uncle Pete's daughter.
My cousin Lana, who looks exactly like my mom.
She's Jayna's older sister and a year older than me.
My cousin Tommy, Lana and Jayna's brother who looks exactly like his dad 
with his wife Jessi.
They live outside of San Antonio with their two boys.
One of my aunt Mary's twins
The other one with one of his daughters

Culturally speaking, my mom married a Black man, my uncle Pete married a White woman, my aunt Mary's first husband (the boy's dad) was Persian and Lorena's dad was Mexican.  We all joke that she's the only cien por ciento (100%) in the family!  My uncle Joe always lived in Texas and he was from my grandmother's first husband and much older.  His son is like 60 or something and I've seen him less than five times in my life.

So my brother and I grew up with my aunt Mary's kids and we spent a lot of our free time at my grandmother's house.  There was an empty lot next to my grandma's house and I remember playing house and making mud tortillas for my babies (my brother and the boys.)  I was ten when Lorena was born so she was my real-life baby.  Of course, I'm pretty sure I'll suck as a mother because when she was about three, I was playing with her one summer and misting her face with a bottle of water because it was so freakin hot outside.  A few days later, she got into some Tilex (!!!!!), and sprayed herself in the face with it!  I still feel bad about that.  And then, three summers ago, Drew and I went home to Kansas and stayed at her house and we were babysitting her year old daughter.  I'd ironed my skirt on the bedspread earlier that day and her iron didn't have an automatic shut-off switch like ours does.  I didn't even think to check and the baby knocked over the iron and burned her foot.  There were four adults in the house to watch one little kid.  I probably shouldn't have kids.

Growing up around that diversity, I didn't really know I was different until I was in about sixth grade in my mostly White Catholic school.  I was raised by my Mexican mom around my Mexican cousins, was brought up in the Church, got all the sacraments (PS - even though I haven't been to mass in years, you can't be ex-Catholic; that's like trying to be ex-Asian), learned a smattering of Spanish (I didn't become fluent until high school), and danced in the fiestas every summer with my cousins.

Now, when I say I was raised by my mom, that's not to say my dad wasn't there.  He was so incredibly involved and I'm forever grateful for that.  As long as I can remember he worked from home, so he packed our lunches every morning and he was always there when we came home from school and he would always drop whatever he was doing to pull me onto his lap in his office to hear all about my day.

But when I think culture, I think food, music, customs, traditions and language, all which came from my mother, my aunt and my grandmother - all old-country Mexican.  I sang the rancheras (old school Mexican songs) before I even knew the words or what they meant, tortillas con mantequilla (tortillas with butter) were my afternoon snack, and chorizo con huevo (Mexican sausage with eggs) is my most favorite comfort food in the world.  Any time we were in the car with my Aunt Mary she gave us all the bendicion (blessing) before backing out of the driveway and you never wanted to pooch your stomach out and make it big and round because that's bad for your tripas (insides.)

Dating wasn't allowed.  Our house was three levels - the bottom level was the family room and my parent's bedroom, middle was the kitchen and living room and the top level were the bedrooms - the guest, my brother's and mine.  Boys entered the house through the bottom level and if they went to the second level, it was only to the kitchen.  I didn't have a boy in the living room until I was 16 years old.  The only boy to ever go to third level of the house was my husband.  And I didn't question it - that's how it was, end of story.

My parents taught me that I could go and do and be whatever I chose, but at the end of the day I was a lady and I was to conduct myself accordingly.  God, just typing that makes me feel guilty for the rowdy stuff I've done in my youth!

I was 22 before I had my first serious boyfriend - he was White.  The one after that was Black - and frat.  That was a culture shock!  I was comfortable around White people and they were familiar - I went to a Catholic school in Kansas, but a Black dude?  That was in a fraternity?  That went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University)?  He might as well have been from another country.  That was the most fun relationship ever and I learned so many things from him!  My dad loves his soul food, but my mom never cooked it so consequently, I never ate it.  I was 26 before I ever had collard greens or homemade macaroni and cheese.  I remember when I was 7 or 8, we went to my dad's sister's house in Georgia for Christmas but I was too scared to eat the food because I didn't know what any of it was.  I remember asking my mom if they had tortillas and I seriously think I only ate some corn because that was the only thing that looked familiar.  I knew some Motown-type, soul-type songs but I didn't know all the words.  I never knew what Homecoming was really all about!  I still have a soft spot in my heart for that boyfriend - I hope he's found a girl that makes him wildly happy.

But if you were cute, I was equal opportunity!  I've dated Italians, Colombians, Puerto Ricans and farm boys from Iowa!  But Drew was my forever so I married him.  I didn't seek out a White guy, it just kind of happened, and boy are we different!  He grew up around his extended family as well, but he's not nearly as close to them as I am to mine, but maybe that's less a culture thing than it is a gender thing.  I doubt he pretended his younger cousins were his babies!

Drew's actually done quite well with my family.  I was nervous as I was the first brown girl he's ever dated and I wasn't sure of his motives.  He likes to say he dated a Cuban girl in college, but they only went out for a couple months and frankly, I wouldn't call any of his college relationships serious!  

I know he thinks it's odd when I want to give him the bendicion before he gets on a plane, but he goes along with it.  He doesn't speak Spanish or know the songs I grew up with, but neither did my dad.  I'm sure he shakes his head that six of us will pile in the car to go to the drugstore for toothpaste, but I say can we fit one more?  I can't cook, so he doesn't get any of my family recipes that I grew up with - I want to move back to Kansas for that reason alone.  My Aunt Mary's cooking is legendary!  Even though my cousin commented that he was 'a little bright', they still took him in, inviting him to take pulls straight from the tequila bottle at the impromptu barbeque they had for us.  And with that, he was officially one of the family.  

But we are different - Drew's parents were waaaaay less strict than mine, again maybe a gender thing.  Additionally, he thinks that men and women can and should be 50-50 equal partners in everything, which goes against everything I was ever taught, and I've had to do some re-learning in our relationship.  There were men things and women things in our house and it was a non-issue.  My mother has never in her life shoveled snow out of the driveway and my father has never expected her to do it.  I've never seen my dad do laundry and that's just the way it is - but I suspect that's more because he does it the guy way of stuffing in as much as will fit and dumping in detergent after.  My mom makes more money than my dad but she was always the woman of the house and he was the man, no questions asked.  I was taught that boys should hold open your door, always pay for dates and that you should offer to split things but if he was a true gentleman, he would always decline.  I grew up seeing my dad do things for my mom that I'm pretty sure she could have done for herself, yet he did them and she let him.  My dad taught me to drive and my mom kissed my knee when I fell - she was the softie, he was the teacher.  Yeah, he was a Southern ex-military hard-ass and he was the one who gave us spankings, but he's still my daddy, always always always.

One of the things that Drew and I disagree the most about is the notion that women/men can do anything the other can do.  I vehemently disagree.  We are not made equal and we're not supposed to be.  We're different to complement each other.  I don't think that women are supposed to be bench-pressing 200 pounds (no offense to those women that can) or that men should be sitting on the sofa with a hanky, weeping over a soap opera.  Men can build and provide a home, but it's just four walls without a woman's touch.  

Again, I'm just talking about mine and Drew's relationship and how I grew up.  Family is not just a married man and woman and I'm not discussing various family dynamics like gay parents, single moms by choice, single dads, foster families, blended families, blah blah blah et cetera et cetera - I'm just talking about me and how my upbringing has shaped my thoughts about marriage for me.  Like it or not, your upbringing shapes you - you either seek to duplicate it or you seek to do everything the exact opposite but it is an influence any way you slice it.  I don't know many details about Drew's family dynamic because he's a guy and guys rarely talk about that stuff, but I get the impression that he kept his nose clean, got good grades and his parents pretty much let him figure stuff out for himself.  I don't really know much about his extended family and I don't pry - much.  I know there are cousins and I do wonder why he's not closer to them.  I do wonder how in the world he could go for years without going home for Christmas.  But I'm also pretty sure that he's the only one in his family with an advanced degree in  biomedical engineering and that might have something to do with it.  I'm sure there's the whole 'you think you're too good to work in the factory like the rest of us' thing going on there.  

You know, I left home when I was 19, something my mother never would have done.  She moved from her parent's house to her husband's house and had I chosen to do the same, no one would have raised an eyebrow.  But I left, seeing the world, meeting all kinds of people, doing all kinds of things, but when I finally settled down, I found that all I really want is for my husband to shovel the snow while I stay inside and attempt to cook and sing to the baby.

Funny how that happens.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I suck at life

Actually, I suck at writing right now.  Stuff is happening in my life, stuff that would be cool to write about, yet for some reason I'm finding it annoyingly difficult to put my fingers to the keyboard.

So I'm going to do something I've never done before and I'm nervous.  I told myself I wouldn't ever do it, because I'm the one who decides the subject matter 'round here.  This is what writer's block does to you - it causes you to whore yourself out like some cheap desperate meth-head looking for a fix.  But I'm not a meth-head.  I don't even drink caffeinated soda.  I rarely even drink soda.  You know what?  Forget the meth-head reference.  Do you see what is happening to me?

I've decided to open myself up to questions.  And I'm scurred.  The Pioneer Woman has done it a bunch, and some other blogs have done it and due to this raging, pissing-me-straight-the-fuck-off writer's block that I have, now I'm doing it too.

I'm scared that only one person will ask me something, and it'll be the one thing I'm not comfortable answering.  But it's out here, I'm doing it and I'm praying to the baby Jesus I don't regret it.

So shoot.  Is there anything you want to know that I haven't already told you?  This is why I'm nervous, I feel like I've told you everything already and you're going to be all, nah there's nothing I care to know about you Desiree, you're kind of lame.  And then I will cry.

And PS - if you're mean, I reserve the full right to be mean right back.

Ask away!

OH!  I just thought of something!  Is there anything you want me to write more about?  Stuff you like, stuff you want to know more about?  Let's do that too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Let it be known

Today is the day I admit to the world that I love my dog.  Yes, I love my dog.  I said it, out loud and here it is, immortalized for all eternity.  I love my doggie.

I've felt this way for some time but I haven't really admitted to anyone how my feelings have changed.  I mean, people knew but I've never made a declaration, a proclamation.  As if that sort of thing was really needed, yet here I am, proclaiming.

In the beginning, it was full-out hatred.  I hated the dog, I hated Drew for getting the dog and there were plenty of times I was ready to just walk out, me-or-the-dog style.  Of course, I didn't and with time I grew to have a grudging tolerance which gave way to acceptance of the dog.  Now as the primary care-giver, my acceptance has grown to outright love.  I won't lie, the two miscarriages have definitely caused some emotional transference that I don't think was ever really avoidable.  And I certainly won't comment on whether that's healthy or not because frankly, I was ready to divorce Drew (and I'm not being dramatic - I was ready to walk) over that damn dog and anything that will bring me back from that brink is welcome.  Furthermore, I could have coped with something more destructive like drinking, drugs, excess spending, depression, nasty anger or bottomless grief.  No, learning to love my dog is far more preferable.

It helps that she's out of the worst part of the puppy phase.  We trust her enough now that we leave her out when we're gone and as long as we set her up for success, she's good.  As long as bathroom and closet doors stay closed, (because she knows how to open doors and since our house is old some of the doors don't catch) we have no problems.  Clothes and shoes have to be picked up too, otherwise it's fair game.  I still get upset when she rips up my stuff, but it's no longer the murderous rage that burns my blood so I count that as a win.  Walking is no longer a battle, and now that the hate is no longer clouding my vision I can see Maya for her funny, adorable self.  She has a personality, she can catch an attitude, but above all, she's smart.  She still has a lot to learn and I'm still fighting with Drew because he's still far too indulgent with her and then blows up when he's had enough, but one thing at a time I guess.

Up next, I want to work on refining her manners.  It's much easier to like/tolerate a well-behaved dog and I don't want to annoy people that come to my house.  When my parents were here, they did amazingly well with her.  We never had animals growing up and my parents are definitely not accustomed to a giant 85-pound dog that thinks she's the size of a chihuahua.  Maya was overjoyed at having new people in the house and jumped on both of my parents.  My dad could handle it but my mom is barely 5'1" and I hated that Maya couldn't just be chill.  Drew says that it's because she's not even two yet but I call bullshit because she's smart.  She stopped jumping on me ages ago because I made it extra clear that Mama don't play that.  She still jumps on Drew and he allows it because he thinks it's cute - I can see the parenting issues now.  I was telling Kesha how her behavior reminded me of the scene in The Miracle Worker where Helen Keller was going around eating off everyone's plates and disrupting their dinner and they all just let her because she was blind and deaf.  Then here comes Annie Sullivan and she's like, so what she's blind and deaf, that doesn't mean she doesn't have to have manners!  

That's how I feel about Maya - it doesn't matter that she's an animal or a puppy, there's no reason for her not to have manners and be well-behaved.  I keep telling Drew that more people will like her if she's more charming but he's still of the mind-set that she's a dog and everyone should just accept her as is.  I guess I can see it from both sides because I used to be a non-dog person.  I can't say I hated dogs because only those who are dead inside are unmoved by puppies.
  I dare you not to smile!

But now that I'm on the other side and I love my doggie, I want everyone else to love her too.  Or at the very least, not turn their nose up when she comes trotting up to say hello.  Because she really is awesome.  If she's laying down and you approach her, she rolls onto her back just begging for a chest and belly rub.  If you find that spot on her chest, her little leg goes wild and she tosses her head back in pure joy.  She's very submissive and often I'll put my face just to the side of hers and sniff.  She'll go really still and then she'll sniff.  Then I'll sniff and it goes back and forth like that until she licks me as if to say "Okay, Mom I know it's you."  She loves her chewies and she especially likes it if you hold the chewie while she chews on it.  So many times she'll bring me one of her bones and I'll take hold of it and she'll hop on the sofa, plop down and start gnawing.  It's super cute when she puts her paw on top of my hand as if to steady me or make sure I don't take her bone away.  If I let go of the bone, she'll look up and cock her head to the side like, WTF?  I was chewing here!  

At night, she'll wait for me to get ready for bed and when it's time she hops on the bed, scratches around for a bit and curls up at the foot of the bed.  But only when it's time.  I haven't fully noticed but I think she knows it's bedtime when I'm done brushing my teeth - then she'll leap up and make herself comfortable.  It's only a challenge when Drew is home because she eventually stretches out during the night and have I mentioned she's 85 pounds?  A king-size bed feels cramped when she's sprawled out and forget moving her.  One night she scooted up so high I couldn't stretch my legs out, and when I tried to move her she growled at me!  I was so surprised because she never growls at me that I tried to move her again and she growled again!  Let sleeping dogs lie, I guess.  

And if this isn't a true testament to how much I've changed:  One morning I was laying in bed and Maya hopped up on the bed for some snuggle time.  She was stretched out next to me, absentmindedly chewing a bone, getting chest and belly rubs, rolling around and just being cute.  We played like that for a good long time - usually she gets bored pretty quickly but this time she was content to just hang out with me.  She was on her back with her muzzle less than an inch from my face when out of nowhere, she sneezed.  Thank God it wasn't super snotty but I got sprayed nonetheless.  I think it surprised her and she righted herself immediately while I wiped my face with my t-shirt and laughed.  I laughed because it was the cutest thing I'd ever experienced and I laughed at how far I've come.  The old me would have been grossed out beyond belief, angry and resentful that it was me she sneezed on and not Drew.  But this me, this doggie-lover, just laughed and got out of bed to wash my hands and face (dog snot is not that cute.)

I miss her when I'm at work, I have days when I would rather stay home with her than go anywhere and she really is a funny little dog.  Would you believe I'm seriously contemplating getting another one so she can have a playmate?
 I want a light silver to complement our charcoal silver
Image courtesy TexazSilvers, our super awesome breeder

Oh, and before someone flames me for wanting another breeder dog, don't.  I'm no Cesar Millan - I have zero ability to rehabilitate dogs and I know I could never handle a dog with issues.  Maya is exceptional and I could barely deal with her and it would break my heart to a million pieces to rescue a dog and then have to give it up because I couldn't handle it.  That's why when we do pull the trigger, we're going to donate half of our purchase price to a Lab rescue group or similar animal shelter.  Even though I love my dog, I'm not truly a dog person and I would have a very different story for a dog that destroys everything in sight, is aggressive, difficult to housebreak or has any other issue.

But for now, we have our MayaBoo.  She's so sweet and loving and every day I grow closer and closer to her.  At this point, I couldn't imagine not having her and I already get choked up thinking about the day when we won't have her.  Thankfully, that's a long time away and we have many more happy years together.

Which is probably how long it's going to take me to teach her to stop jumping on strangers.  And stop barking at newspapers in the driveway.  And stop hogging the bed.  And stop ripping up her blankets and eating them so I have to pull threads out of her ass later.  And stop chewing up the trash when I accidentally leave the bathroom door open.  And stop chewing up my shoes and clothes when I accidentally leave them where she can get them.

She's not perfect, but I do love her.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is it Christmas yet?

Do y'all remember Beetlejuice?  Am I dating myself?  I don't care, this is how I feel.
If I knew Photoshop, I'd put my face there but
you'll just have to use your imagination.

I am so sad and gloomy and I apologize in advance.  It's raining here and all I want is to be at home, back in bed.  But more than that, what I really want is for my parents to come back.  Specifically, my little mommy.  Well, wait, my dad too.  Okay, so not 'specifically.'

My parents came to visit for the weekend and we had such a wonderful time and nobody fought (can you believe that?!?!) and we laughed and hung out.  While I enjoyed every moment, it made me miss my parents so so very much.  I don't have any family at all here in Dallas and most days it doesn't bother me, but this time it really got to me.  We didn't even do anything in particular, just normal vacation-type stuff.  We took them to the gardens where we got married, went shopping, went out to dinner, watched tv, and it was perfect.  We didn't have to try, conversation was never strained and there weren't any real awkward silences, thanks to my dad.  My dad can talk to anyone who will stand still long enough which of course embarrassed the crap out of me when I was a kid.  But now, I can appreciate his ability to keep a conversation going and engage anyone in the room.  It's actually quite a valuable skill.  Drew's a man of few words and I didn't realize how much I missed random chatter until my dad and his endless questions filled the house.  I can appreciate silence but good conversation about nothing in particular is just as valuable to me and the whole weekend I just sat with a smile in my heart, listening to my dad talk.  It was kind of like our house woke up a little bit.

I didn't take any pictures - not one.  I spent the entire weekend glued to my mom's side, holding her hands, and alternating between laying my head on her shoulder and letting her rub my temples with my head on her lap.  I missed my mom's touch and I felt like a kid again, but in the good way.  Not the way where you feel like your parents don't see you as an adult - the way that just a touch from your mom makes you all glowy inside. 

To me, that's the greatest part about family.  I've had my differences with my mom, my major differences with my dad but we always end up coming back to center, to that place where my dad will sit on the toilet and let me trim his old-man eyebrows, that place where I hold hands with my mom and walk a little slower than usual because she's so short and her little legs don't go as fast.  That place where they're still my parents, bigger and stronger, with more wisdom and answers and life experience than I'll ever have, yet they're fragile and delicate and I find myself wanting to fluff their pillows and hover, making sure they're comfortable and they have everything they need.

I miss them so much and I've never felt the distance between us as acutely as I did this morning when they left and as I do now.  Maybe I'm getting older and realizing how quickly time passes or I'm just inordinately mushy, but I wanted to fold myself in their suitcase.  I want to hear my dad talk for hours about nothing.  I want to rub my mom's hands that are still wonderfully soft and unlined.  

I wonder if I'll ever have children and they'll bury their faces in my lap and play with my hands and look in my eyes and say "I love you so much Mom."  Even when they're 34 years old.


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